15 Nov

Why morons shouldn’t be writing about security, part 2

I read Kotaku’s article called “FBI Says Alleged Hackers Used FIFA To Steal Millions From EA” this morning. And it reminded me of the crap articles Catalin Cimpanu writes at Softpedia.

What’s wrong with Kotaku’s article?

Well, pretty much everything.

First, this group did not steal from Electronic Arts. If fact, not a single penny of real currency was taken from EA.

According to an unsealed FBI indictment, Clark and his co-defendants allegedly built a tool that would send false signals to EA’s servers to spoof matches, generating these FIFA coins at a rapid rate. The FBI alleges that Clark and crew then sold the coins to third-party sellers, earning millions.

Exactly! Guys received FIFA coins from EA (it’s an in-game currency) which they later sold on underground sites. Money came from persons entirely unrelated to Electronic Arts and it was given voluntarily. And that, by definition, is not a theft.

The article continues with a plenty of other funny statements like

.. worked with the defendants to get Xbox development kits and reverse-engineer a pirated copy of FIFA 14 using a program called Interactive Disassembler. This process took several months, Alcala said, but it allowed them to create a tool for mining FIFA coins.

I just love the IDA reference in here. bigsmile These guys used disassembler, they must be real evil hackers! All in all, this article is a fun read but it got all the basic facts wrong.

Mr. Jason Schreier, please stop writing about things you have no clue about. Stick to your video game reviews or something.

What is really happening?

Thankfully, UK journalists have much better idea of what’s happening in US courts, and they wrote a much better article. According to the indictment, the charges are “conspiracy to commit wire fraud“, a stupid catch-all term used in US courts for pretty much everything done over the Internet.

That document is equally funny read and shows how desperate the prosecutors must be to make any charges stick. Let’s see:

  • the defendant assisted in creating a program (…) which sent electronic messages to EA’s servers fraudulently representing that thousands of FUT matches had been completed in the EA’s FIFA video game. EA’s servers materially relied on the completed match messages and credited various accounts maintained by the defendant and his co-conspirators with FIFA coins. – this is the only part of the indictment that actually makes sense. Kinda. There’s one teeny tiny detail – RANE Developments got virtual goods from EA. And the legal status of virtual goods is very unclear in the United States. If virtual goods are not “money or property” in the eyes of law, then there was no fraud.
  • the defendant and co-conspirators continued to create and execute new methods to circumvent the security measures by EA in EA’s effort to prevent fraudulent activity associated with the company’s FIFA video game. – that might be a breach of EULA but not a crime;
  • executed their “application” through a video game console, which they modified to circumvent security and copyright protections, and on game development kits, which they obtained from unlicensed sources. – we’re getting desperate, let’s charge them with modding their consoles!
  • executed their “application” through cloud computer servers, which allowed them to run more copies of the software and obtain significantly more FIFA coins. – if nothing else helps, let’s charge them with renting cloud computer servers! Oh, wait, what? smile

Naturally, the defendant has pled not guilty to the charge. And if his lawyer is any good, I’m guessing he’ll walk out of the court as a free man.

21 Sep

IDA bug in PE export processing

Hi, I’m back from vacation. And now I’m catching up on all the things that have happened during that time. So, here’s a short writeup regarding publicly-known IDA bug and how it will (not) affect reversers.

It was supposed to be a long post showing how to use PatchDiff to locate patched code and then backport it. But, as you’ll see later, that’s not necessary at all. Maybe another time..

Initial research by Palo Alto

When checking my RSS feed, I stumbled upon the article by Palo Alto researchers called “The Dukes R&D Finds a New Anti-Analysis Technique“. It stated:

Using the exported functions by ordinal meant the exported function name was unnecessary, which allowed the developer of this DLL to leave the names for the exported functions blank … The less obvious reason is that it takes advantage of a bug in the popular IDA disassembler that was recently fixed in the latest version of IDA.

Bug in IDA?! How nice, I want to test this!

Testing the bug

Palo Alto report contained most of the information to reproduce the issue. But IDA 6.95 changelog was even more detailed about what was fixed:

BUGFIX: PE: IDA would not detect DLL exports with empty names
BUGFIX: PE: IDA would show no exports if the export directory’s DLL name was an empty string

Armed with the detailed description, I used MASM32 package and their Examples to build a DLL file.

Empty DLL name

First, I took hex editor and changed DLL name in export directory.
Now the exported DLL name is 0-length string. Let’s see what IDA does..

I started with IDA 6.95 Demo you can download from official site. No surprises here, the bug is fixed:

Then I took legit copy of IDA 6.90. As already demonstrated by Palo Alto, it’s buggy:

Naturally, I wanted to see how old this bug is. So, I took a copy of IDA 6.80. Surprise, surprise, it’s not buggy!
So, it looks like this bug was introduced in IDA 6.90.

Empty export name

For completeness sake, I repeated the experiment with empty exported API name.
The results were identical, the bug is only present in IDA 6.90.

How it affects you?

If you’re using IDA Free, latest version is 6.95. You’re good.
If you’re using legit IDA, you have received the updated version 6.95. You’re good.
If you’re using the latest publicly leaked version of IDA (6.80), it didn’t have the bug. So, you’re good, too.

To sum it up – it’s a fun bit of information but no one is really affected. Good news, I guess. smile

Example DLL files if you want to verify your tools: https://www.mediafire.com/?c9t6hm4icd3kk46